Bill to Extend PTC Deadline Introduced

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) has introduced legislation to extend the deadline for implementation of positive train control (PTC) to 2020. The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 currently mandates that PTC must be installed by December 31, 2015.

The bipartisan Railroad Safety and Positive Train Control Extension Act, co-sponsored by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), will ease the regulatory burden and costs for passenger and freight railroads.

“We must work to do everything we can to improve train safety and accident prevention without burdening our nation’s freight and passenger rail industry," Senator Blunt said. "Unmanageable deadlines could result in higher costs and a disruption of service.”

“This bipartisan bill will help ease the Positive Train Control deadline to give railroads in Missouri and nationwide enough time to fully and safely implement this new technology,” added the senator.

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger remarked on the importance of the proposed legislation.

"America's freight rail industry welcomes the legislation to extend the deadline for implementing Positive Train Control on the nation's rail system and appreciates the Senators' recognition that the existing mandate to have a fully interoperable, nationwide PTC system tested and safely operating by the end of 2015 is simply not possible and must be changed," said Hamberger.

"The AAR believes the new deadline set by the legislation is a reasonable and responsible extension and provides the freight and passenger rail industries the time needed to fully install, test and approve PTC," he continued. "While the freight rail industry has spent $5.2 billion to date on PTC and progress has been substantial, much remains to be done before PTC can safely operate coast to coast. This bill provides railroads the time necessary to fully and safely implement PTC without having to navigate an arbitrary and infeasible statutory deadline."